Monday, June 24, 2013

Captain D's

Festus, Mo.

Something came up here, or almost came up, that may affect my ability to review certain places objectively. I will try to continue, but we may have to alter our course a bit. More on this later.

The Place:
Sharing the lot with Home Depot and Tanglefoot, et al.
Generic, plastic, ubiquitous. The lighted sign towering above the place was not lit, the dim lighting inside made us think for a moment that it was closed. there were a few cars around it though and  as we pulled in we saw some people inside. There were also a couple  of cars in the drive through. Once we found the door, we went right in. The rope lined maze put us face on to a couple of posters on the wall showing some special meals. We read through them then headed toward the counter. Above it were the regular offerings, disjointed and not comprehensive. Scattered around were other photo'd menu items, here there, everywhere. I chose this place since I hadn't had fish and chip style fish in quite a while, and the weather was hot and weighing us down, burgers or steak or pasta seemed too heavy. Angel ordered first and quickly, one of the earlier specials. My train of thought exploded and I ordered without really thinking, one of the other specials. Adam was the only one of us that ordered pretty much what he knew he would going in.
The Food:
Angel had asked for the crab cake, fish and shrimp plate with corn on the cob and coleslaw. Adam got the chicken dinner with fries and slaw. I ended up with the eight piece shrimp and fish. When asked about sides I looked up at the menu, couldn't find them, and heard the counter lady tapping the counter in front of me, there it was, a small list. This selection would be my second mistake in the first sixty seconds since I stepped up to order. I asked for slaw and hush puppies. Stupid move.
The problem with that became stunningly obvious when I picked up the order. But I'm jumping ahead of the story. First we would have to wait for the order. To facilitate this we were handed one of those pager thingies with flashing lights. We gathered up our cups, poured our drinks and grabbed a few condiments and a bottle of malt vinegar. On the way we saw a couple more posters with offerings that sounded much better than what we'd ordered, these were past the place where orders were taken.
We found a booth by the window and waited. In a few minutes the pager started it's noisy and flashy orgasm. I rushed it up to the counter and was handed two trays.
We sorted it all out and I saw my big mistake. The eight piece shrimp and fish came standard with two hush puppies. The wasted side I ordered added four more to the hush puppy pile. My plate looked like an assortment of deep fried bread with a dollop of slaw. The one piece of fish, the thing I actually craved was tiny and thin in comparison to everything else. The pile of shrimp and hush puppies stood in stark, glaring contrast to my intentions of having a light meal. I like hush puppies, but two would have been fine. I really wanted more fish, less shrimp, if any.
Sure enough the puppies and shrimp were tasty, but really, really filling. I don't really like breaded shrimp very much. I prefer steamed/boiled/grilled shrimp, no breading, just with a little butter garlic and Old Bay. The fish was okay, but a little greasy.
Adam dunked his chunks and seemed to like them. The slaw was a problem though. "Is there celery in the slaw?" He asked his mom. She poked hers, I poked mine, didn't see any. "There might be celery seeds, they're tiny and have a strong celery taste." She said. This baffled me, I didn't know celery actually had a discernible taste. I said as much to which Adam replied "I guess I have  more refined tastes. I like celery by itself just not as an ingredient." This made Angel's eyes roll. She blamed me since I have the same opinion about nuts.
It was enough for him though, the rest of his slaw went untouched. I thought the slaw was fine, creamy and crisp. Angel said it was good "But it's not as good as KFC" she said. KFC's slaw is the gold standard for her. Hardly anyone's slaw measures up to that high bar.
Angel buttered up her corn and went to it like a buzz saw. I asked her about the crab cake. "The taste was okay, but it was mushy on the inside." She didn't seem too disappointed and I knew why, lowered expectations. We lived in Maryland for five years, THE place for crab cakes. Nowhere else, absolutely nowhere outside that state gets it right.
 Meanwhile I was starting to struggle, I felt uncomfortable, irritable. My meal had disappointed me and worse, it wasn't settling well. I left four puppies and three shrimp behind. I still felt I'd over done it. And here's why.
The Problem:
A few months back my doctor advised me that I needed to change my diet. My caveman style selections and habits were not rewarding me with any favors. Unlike the last twenty times I'd been told that I decided that he was probably worth paying attention to, that I'd go ahead an finally take strides to pay attention to what and when I ate.
This was quite a radical change for me, but I was/am committed. It became an adventure, a quest, a puzzle, a journey, a challenge, a dare. I started reading labels, learning about carbs and cholesterol, calories and sodium, etc. I established an area of the pantry that I would personally keep stocked with a variety of safe options. I doubled, even tripled the amount of fruits and green vegetables. I abolished sugar, enriched flour and starches (potatoes). I changed my haphazard/scavenging lunch to a measured amount of portable portions including raisins and a banana, every day. I completely gave up white bread, chips, pastries, and just about everything fried. Except for this one meal on Saturday evenings.
Its caused a problem though. I knew this going in to Captain D's, it's one of the reasons I chose fish. I didn't want a fast food burger because of my recent experiences with fast food burgers. They now make me ill, physically ill. Not critically, but they do jack up the ick factor enough to where I am useless for quite a while afterward. Even my much-loved sausage biscuits at Hardee's now have that sickening effect.
As we left Captain D's the problem manifested itself quickly. My mouth felt and tasted like I'd just had deep-fried road kill. My tummy knotted up. This may affect future choices of places to go on Saturday. I don't think I can be objective about fast food places anymore. I don't even like the look of them. One whiff of the grease and I start getting queasy.
However, I can't convince myself that this is a bad thing.
Like I said, I can't be objective. The place made me sick. I'm sure though that it was me that was the problem. The initial taste was satisfying, I just ordered very poorly. I ordered the breaded shrimp and I don't even like breaded shrimp very much. I think some fish and slaw, and maybe a hush puppy would have been fine.
         As we were leaving Angel said to me: "I think Adam is the only person under forty in the entire place." I hadn't noticed, but a quick scan confirmed it. There were thirty or forty people eating there as we left all of them were our age or older. No kids, no teens, no young couples. I have no idea what this meant. Maybe just a coincidence, I can't be sure, just something we noticed.

The menu, broken up and spread out all over the place, made picking something very difficult. I regretted my choice immediately as I passed more offerings I was not aware of at the time of ordering.
I can't really give an opinion here, figure it out for yourself. My experience, though mostly my own fault, was lousy. 

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